f our IJnarters The Care and Prevention of Playwrights . By Walter Kerr • Page 3 9i Rest Camp, a story By Claude F. Koch • Page 6 The Two Faces of Fiction W pS By John F. McGlynn • Page 13 IS Brief Candle, a poem s By Claude F. Koch • Page 17 i Two Poems By Leo Brady • Page 18 1 The Sign, a story ^^^ « « ^ >% ^ By Edward Garry To Death, a poem By Brother Adelbert Is There a Doctor in the House? • Page 20 • Page 28 1 By Dan Rodden • Page 29 0^ november f ifteenth. 1951 VI s s vol. I9 no. 1 • fifty cents The AREA OF LITERATURE of La Salle College announces . . . four quarters a literary magazine published quarterly during the academic year, • aimed at focusing the practice and appreciation of writing in the Catholic tradition . . . • aimed more particularly at fixing a channel of expression for Faculty, Alumni, and Students of La Salle College, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and selected outside contributors . . . The Editors accordingly offer the pages of FOUR QUARTERS as a common ground for the creative, critical, or scholarly writer and the alert and reflective reader. They promise that each manuscript submitted will receive careful con- sideration, and, realizing that creative growth is dependent on sustained interest, they welcome the attention and comments of their subscribers. EDITOR— Austin J. App ASSOCIATE EDITOR— Brother E. Patrick, F.S.C. MANAGING EDITOR— Daniel J. Rodden BUSINESS MANAGER— Brother G. Robert. F.S.C. CIRCULATION MANAGER— Joseph A. Browne. Jr. EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES— Claude F. Koch. Chairman Brother E. Clementian. F.S.C. Howard L. Hannum Robert L. Dean Joseph F. Hosey Ugo Donini John F. McGlynn John A. Guischard E. Russell Naughton Manuscripts and other correspondence should be addressed to The Editor, FOUR QUARTERS, La Salle College, Philadelphia 41, Pa. Manuscripts should be typed double- spaced and should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Con tributers WALTER KERR, for a number of years a member of tbe drama faculty of the CatKoIic University of America, wKere bis classes in play- writing and drama theory became well known, is presently guest drama critic of the l^ejv York Herald-Trihune, drama editor of Commonweal, and a contributing editor of Theatre Arts Monthly. As a playwright, he has frequently been represented on Broadw^ay, most recently by the success- ful musical revue Touch and Go, written in collaboration with his wife. Jean Kerr. Mr. Kerr is represented in this first issue of FOUR QUARTERS by the provocative article, "The Care and Prevention of Playwrights." LEO BI^ADY, whose verse appears in this issue, is at present Assistant Professor of Speech and Drama at the Cathohc University of America. A frequent contributor to poetry magazines, Mr. Brady is the author of a novel. The Edge of Doom, and of several plays, one of which. Count Me In, written in collaboration with Walter Kerr, w^as produced professionally. JOSEPH MINTZER, who contributed the typographic cover design for this and the year's subsequent issues of FOUR QUARTERS, is a member of the Art Directors of America, the Scarab Club of Detroit, former president of the Ecclesiastical Art Guild of Detroit, and has exhibited his paintings under the auspices of the Michigan Water Color Society. BROTHER ADELBERT is a former Assistant Professor of English at La Salle College. At present he is studying for his doctorate in Medieval Literature at the Catholic University of America. CLAUDE F. KOCH, JOHN F. McGLYNN, EDWARD GARRY, and DAN RODDEN are members of the faculty of La Salle College. The Care and Prevention of Playivrights By Walter Kerr THOSE or us wKo teacK playwriting sometimes wonder why one of our young student playwrigKts may spend tKree or four years with us in the universities without producing anything w^e can honestly consider stageworthy, and then go out into the wide, uncuhivated world and within a year turn out a mature and even commercial work. We were so well equipped to help him, we had all those courses, we gave him so much of our precious personal time, and we offered him an intellectual environ- ment in which a man should have been able to grow. The year after leaving us he spent mostly in bars and on beaches. To our chagrin, the bars and the beaches produced the work of art. Chagrined but unbowed, we are still determined to help him. and we try to entice him back to our own, and superior, environment. Lately the universities have been offering residences to young playwrights. Come back, we say. Come out of the potholes and into the light, and let us help you write better plays. The chances are about a thousand to one, if the playwright does come back, that he will again embarrass us by producing the unproduceable. And the longer he stays, the worse he will get. I am not suggesting that we cannot be of use to the beginning writer; we can, and we have been. But there are certain limitations to our use- fulness, and I think it is wise to face them. It is also necessary to make the playwright face them, so that he does not suffer at the hands of men honestly trying to help, and so that he does not paralyze himself with misapprehensions about his trade. The fundamental virtue of the university as an aid to playwrights is that it is a repository of historical and technical knowledge about the craft and that, as a result of years of study and synthesis, it can offer a quick resume of traditional structural principle. The neophyte had best be exposed to all this. It will save him time. The fundamental vice of the university as a home for playwrights is that it is an essentially rational environment, devoted to logic, theory, and the study of principle. The playwright's gift, like that of other artists, is not primarily rational, but intuitive. This means, roughly, that he has an instinctive capacity for sudden and direct contact with realityz—flashes of insight which are not the result of rational construction in a vacuum, but come from immediate intimacy with nature itself. NVhat he receives are concrete images, not abstractions or equations, and universities are notorious hotbeds of abstraction and equation. There is a certain estrangement, and perhaps even a clash, between the rational and intuitive methods of the intellect. F. S. C. Northrop 4 Four Quarters empKasizes this in The Meeting of East and ^Vest wken he points out that the rationally arrived-at knowledge of the wave-IengtK for blue will do nothing at all to convey to a man born blind the actual experience of blueness. Now the playwright is concerned with blueness— for him, blue- ness means the living reality of an action— and all the abstract equations he learns for climax, crisis, direct and indirect characterization will not convey to him or to his audience this living reality. The danger he faces in a university, where the search for equations is after all the principal business, is that he will be drawn into the fascination of the formula. He may come to believe that the equation is the living reality or a perfectly good substitute for it. Writing hard, he will produce plays as lifeless as they are mathematically irreproachable. Or, sensing his own failure, he will turn into what he is now really equipped to be^-a critic. I suppose all of this sounds a little intangible and overwrought. But those of us who teach playwriting have had it happen repeatedly to us, or to our students, in one way or another. We may have told them, perhaps in a course in drama theory or history, that tragedy is our most profound dramatic form, and that all or virtually all of our great tragedies are in verse. What we said was demonstrably true. But it did not justify the rash of verse tragedies which broke out in playwriting class some short time later. Young writers are an ambitious and elevated lot. Give them a principle about tragedy or about anything else, and they are going to attack their work as though the principle came first. The chance that any one of these plays was inspired by an immediate and tragic intuition of life is, I think, rare. And unless we really do point out that a perfectly sound critical principle is no guide whatever to the personal talent of an individual man, we may condemn that man to five or six years of laboriously perfecting a form for which he has no perceptive capacity. Or there is my own experience of guiding a student through a series of exercises which were calculated to teach her a good deal about play structure. She seemed to learn the structure all right, but to be without any particular talent. One day when my back was turned, and my glaring formal eye not directed toward her, she forgot about the whole thing and wrote a play. It was so good I had to produce it immediately in the university theatre; it w^as later optioned for New York. She is still profuse about how^ much she learned from me. but I learned more from her. I learned that I could teach a lot of principle but that a genuine playwright is a terribly unprincipled person. Again, a young man comes to us seeking admission, w^ith a dozen assorted manuscripts under his arm. Here, obviously, is a very fertile fellow. At the end of a year with us, w^e find he has not even put pencil to paper. Is it possible that we have somehow paralyzed him? On several such occasions I have asked the student for an explanation and I have several times been answered as follows: "Oh, I couldn't possibly have wasted my time writing anything. Every lecture you gave taught me so The Care and Prevention of Playwrights 5 mucn that I didn't want to be making mistakes on paper that might be prevented by the very next lecture." Students have been known to go on for years this way. I thought for awhile of remodehng my classroom to include ear-plugs and a bar. It is not just a matter of wasting time in the classroom, or even of paralyzing a given student for a few^ years thereafter. Carried to its full extension, the emphasis on theory and principle can destroy the output of an entire culture. Something hke this happened in Renaissance Italy. Clearly, there was a fine dramatic and theatrical instinct here, bursting to be heard. It made itself heard with tremendous vitality in the com- meaia dellarte. But the more talented and literate men who might have given Italy a literary comedy or even a tragic form were caught in the throes of classic theory. Slavishly they adhered to the rules of the academi- cians, and in the process went creatively sterile. Holding themselves superior to the commedia, with its formless and vulgar aping of the common life, they destroyed their intuitive gifts by their determined rationality. Obviously we have got to teach what we know about theory and mathematical technique. But we have got to teach it for what it is'—a kit of small tools, an assembly of shortcuts—and never pretend that it is the heart of the w^ork. The student should know that what he is learning will serve as a sort of handy reference guide, once he has absorbed and then forgotten it. Since no intuitively perceived image will ever come w^ith all its shoelaces perfectly tied, it is wise to know how^ to tie them up. But there should be no undue emphasis on the act of tying. It should be "a casual habit w^hich distracts not at all from the pursuit of the image proper. We must encourage the student to form such habits quickly and never again give them thought, so that his mind may be free to make contact with an unmanipulated reality. The trouble with his remaining in a university after the habits have been formed is that he continues to give thought to the processes. He thinks, talks, and theorizes process far into the night. Even if he is advanced to the point of recognizing the difference between process and perception, he thinks, talks, and theorizes about that. It is a world of theory, in which one first establishes the formula and then attempts to fill it. For the artist this is putting the cart before the horse and, like all horses caught in the situation, he is brought to a standstill. The case of John Lyly is much to the point: the University Wits, of which he was one, became wits when they left the universities for the life of London. Lyly, clinging to an intellectual environment and disdaining to compete with the bear-baiting pits, chained himself to an everlasting repetition of his first intellectual conceits. Better the bars and the beaches. Our job in the universities is to teach the traditional short-cuts and to turn them into half-forgotten habits. To make clear to the writer that they are not half so important as his own most casual glance. And to get rid of him as quickly as possible. Rest Camp By Qaude F. Koch REST CAMP is tKe winner of tKe first annual Catholic Press Association SHort Story Award. Tlie story, which appears for the first time in FOUR QUARTERS, was adjudged test by a board composed of editors of leading Cathofic pubhcations. \\r* KiPi VWf ^ o KIPPER'S going asKore in an Kour, Rubber." Over by tKe rail the clumpy little figure started, turned!, and split unshaven cheeks in an indecisive smile. "That'll be great, eh. Commander, eh?" On his damp collar, cross and heutenant's bars were dull and awry. The heutenant commander nodded condescendingly and waved himself away, and the priest leaned his belly against the rail again, contemplating with dull-eyed fatigue the unloading operations in the Noumean dusk. His khaki clothes draped hmply over the framie that awkwardly slouched, bereft of the weight that earned him his nickname— a pale, grimy, fever- ridden httle man small on the trans- port's forward well-deck. That earned him his nickname. The Reverend Wilham Ball, Roman Cathohc chaplain to the 501st Con- struction Battahon, rubbed soft, padded fingers over his cracked hps. On the wharf below, behind which ghnted the dissembhng sun in its setting across the red tin roofs of the palm-sheltered town, pugnacious green trucks of a Marine convoy were already loading the advance party of the Sea Bee Battalion.— his battalion, his disdainful flock. . . . And later, the drinkin' padre, old Rubber Ball himself, hail fellow, the good guy among his peers would step down to the commander's jeep and another round of drinks at this damn rest camp wherever-it-was Saint Louis. But the Solomon Islands were be- hind. Father Ball looked down at his slight fingers clutching white the ship's rail and expelled his breath with a grating sigh. The quonset hut was behind, the screened mess ("officers only"), the beer (out be- yond the screening in the Tulagi twilight bent and dejected figures of elderly men clanked messgear in the long lines^-some looked in and saw him, and saw the skipper, and the tables, and the icebox), and now the rest camp in this New Caledonian security. The advance party was loaded, angular figures of men joy- ous on the planked seats lining the sides of the six-bys^aughing, and boisterous joking. . . . Then one looked up at him and ceased his good humor, or so the priest thought. Father Ball turned away from the rail, and padded his awkward knock- kneed waddle toward his cabin in officers' country. It was dark as the jeep followed the main convoy through the town, but the priest in his seat behind the commander and beside his exec shivered at the piercing whiteness of headlights. Light for the first time at night for six months. Light that cut across the paving as the trucks mounted to the hills and thrust still Rest Camp glowing Kouses into relief. They were silent as tKe hushed witness of conventional hfe took shape in the headhghts, as the faint music of lavender or stranger scents hung in the coohng air. Like the httle towns in the late springs at home. Like, thought Father Ball, the road to my first curacy. The same lonehness and uncertainty and weakness that filled him then assailed him again, and he said: "Well, Skipper, civihzation at last, eh?" "Right-o, Padre. Here's where you fill out again. They say," the Commander turned around with a grin, "they say that the god-damned- est officers' club in the Pacific is right here at the Hotel du Paci- fique ..." "Lead me to it, " the exec yipped his shrill delight. Father Ball nodded absently. It was a strange returning, he thought. Six months baked in green, or scraping sodden cots in total blackness: every sound familiar, weighted and understood. Now^ to learn to hear again the isolated, half- recalled, and fearless sounds of a community; to see after green-blind- ness the wealth of a spectrum^ freed of the tyranny of green. Freed of all familiars, except the self, he thought. The little-fat-man-priest- in-his-spare-time. lover of Number One. An abrupt curve, arrowing the headlights out across angular nae- ouli trees, sliding along wire mesh fencing and plowing shadows across the tilled earth, threw him against the exec. "Hold it. Rubber! " The priest shrank at the nickname. He was silent. "But are the French lasses friendly? " Ball could not see his commanding officer's teeth^-but they would be unveiled fully in the dusk, caught in a moment by the clean light approaching upgrade. ' Now^, here, here," he bantered, "remember your chaplain ..." A bark of laughter, and the little priest nodded his head with a weak smile in the darkness. It was so easy. But to begin again maybe here. Or fifteen minutes ago with the convoy ana the singing men blast- ing through the gate of the long, deserted wharf ^twisting the streets of the tojjun fragrant u^ith memories aching to bum away the months just past, swinging the twisted palms and the relaxed streets, and swinging the jeep like the tail of a long dog be- hind. To begin again with that be- ginning-^but pxst to find the moment of decision, and cast away the para- site of body that when and God knows how became the host and rode the spirit out to something infinitely small and lost. Or to begin now? "What the hell did you say. Padre?" "I said the men sound happy ..." Father Ball clenched his hands on his lap and closed his ears to a reply. And all the hushed ride through the Noumean night journeyed the priest further into the past/— beyond all memories, of his failure as a chap- lain, along the wide roads above the lights that emphasized the pall of valleys below, back to old illusions. But then they were at Camp Saint Louis, and while the Skipper tugged at a case of luke-warm beer and the Four Quarters priest watcKeJ Kim with desire and cKagrin. the Marine Captain wKo was Camp Commander bobbed into tKe tent and banded bim tbe notice for bis morning Masses at Camp Bailey. "And wbere is Camp Bailey, eb?" Ball sbpped tbe notice into bis sag- ging Icbaki sbirt and grabbed eagerly for tbe tin of beer. "Across tbe way, Cbaplain. And watcb yourself," tbe Marine Officer grinned in tbe candlehgbt, "it's a Raider camp and one of tbe outfits is beading Nortb soon; tbey need a Catbobc cbaplain ..." "Not for me; not for me." be bfted tbe can to bis bps witb a jerky movement and drank avidly, "I wouldn't go back tbere for tbe Pope bimself. " II. Tbe bell was a pattern in bis consciousness long before be awak- ened. Back and fortb, tbe notes caugbt pure bke vs^ater in a silver pool, stirring a dream witb ecboes of tbe seminary lawn created anew eacb morning for tbe cassocked boys, tbe ripples widening to drag witbin tbe dream tbe room wbere once be, a bttle boy, still sleeps and late for Mass. . . . But be awakened to tbe instant morning: outside tbe tent tbe paper-peeling bark of a naeouli, and tbe belling across tbe startled valley. Tbe priest buncbed to bis feet, clattering a beer can across tbe tent flooring. No movement in tbe tw^o remaining bunks. Tbe first nigbt's party bad done its work. His wristwatcb blurred to tbe bour, and be remembered bis Mass at tbe Raider camp. But wben be bad dressed and trimmed bis beard, and*— 'clearing tbe still sleeping camp^returned tbe dis- interested greeting of a sentry, tbe bell distracting from some memory down tbe valley drew bim, sbuffling and vulnerable, down a trail be- tween kauri. Tbere was a moment of hesita- tion at a wide dirt road, untravelled in tbe early morning; if tbere w^ere signs, be did not see tbem— -tbe bells clipped ecboes from bills be could not see beyond tbe thickened growths of palm and kauri and wry naeouli; and so be took tbe wrong trail, continuing on the road deeper into the trees dow^n tbe valley. Then tbey ceased their calling and be paused, suddenly breathless. Up and down the trail was tbe silent morning, and the light held in tbe moisture of fronds. Wben he moved again, bewildered, be heard bis foot- steps and was uneasy. Lifting bis feet carefully, be tugged at tbe cross on his collar and searched through the texture of fronds settled over- head for tbe sky^-seeking movement of clouds, of birds. And wben the bells pealed forth again^arring, it seemed, from tbe trees into which he had been star- ing, he bit his lip and quickened bis steps. The mission was there suddenly, unexpectedly at the turn of tbe trail: a whitewashed mass on a rise, its spire directing his eyes to tbe laven- der and green mountains against which it ordered its whiteness. Then be knew^ be bad been climbing, for, looking off to his left, along the fringe of woodland stretched out- Rest Camp buildings latticed like cloisters and irregular patches of farmland slop- ing to a blue marsb. III. Tbe two nuns were so still be bad not noticed tbem. Tbey were up to bis rigbt, by a tumbbng stone wall below tbe cburcb level, tbeir babits tbe dusty grey of stone. Tbey stood in repose, facing bim. He raised bis band and smiled, and one nodded ber bead so sligbtly be besitated to advance. Tbe stones, tumbled to tbeir feet, deepened tbeir silence to tbe silence of statues in tbe grottoes of tbe seminary wbere tbe bells tolled. Here now, tbe bells were silent, be realized. Tbe sky a settled blue tbat backed tbe spire; tbe spire and tbe mission cburcb arcbing beyond tbe stone wall; tbe grey wall tbat backed tbe grey nuns ^-and only be stood alone and out of it. "Sister," be besitated again-— ad- dressing tbe nun wbo bad nodded to bim, "Sister, I'm a Catbolic priest, and I'm afraid I'm lost . . . ' He watcbed tbe nun incline to- ward ber companion, wbisper, and tben move witb robes dissolving into morning toward bim down tbe grade. Her companion remained still, bands folded before ber in ber long grey sleeves. Tbe nun confronting bim, ber eyes fixed witb respect on tbe ground at bis feet— be saw tbe bone structure sharpened beneatb tbe yellow skin and thought of the decaying year and a fragile leaf come to rest. "I speak English, Father," she said— and in ber voice he beard tbe disturbing calm of the bells, "this is tbe mission of Saint Louis. " "Tben I have taken tbe wrong road. Tbe Marine camp— the raider camp— Bailey— where is it. Sister?' Behind her tbe other nun took a faltering step forward. "I am sorry, I do not know. Father. I have just arrived myself." The grey robe fell back from her arm, and Father Ball looked quickly away from the limb, severed at the wrist. "Tbe Cure up there, be will tell you . . . The church again on the rise. He hesitated; to step beyond her was to enter the intolerable regularity of tbe circle of sky, mountain, church, and wall. "Father," ber voice was timid. "You have just come back?" ««v " les. "The Solomon Islands? It was most difficult there, was it not? But to stay was to be involved in this. Down tbe fragile and delicately ordered fields, tilled in grey-green shimmering levels to the marsh, he saw himself walking, in his mind s eye, witb honor. Tbe degrading personal recollections of the islands were as unreal as the islands them- selves, here wbere tbe nun's calm voice was thunder stirring memories. "Yes, Sister, " who in this timeless place could contradict? "at times, it was very difficult." (Out in tbe Tulagi twilight, again and again tbe men averted their eyes from tbe priest in tbe screened enclosure^-- yes, dijficult.) With a quick, shy glance at her face in its wasted repose, be ges- tured farewell and entered tbe cita- del of wall and church and bill. She moved soundlessly aside and stepped lO Four Quarters to the wall, extending tKe ruined ann to her companion. The church smelled of springs of damp, and termites had eaten at carved statues in the indefinite sha- dow. Father Ball genuflected to- v^^ard the vague repository, and with- drew^. The nuns no longer stood by the stone wall, the valley and the marsh drew him, and as he followed the stone wall downward he felt relief from that disturbing solitude. If, he said. 7 say my Mass this morning, ana resolve^^hecause I've done no wrong: loneliness is not a sin, and if 1 was occasionally com- fortable, 1 needed it more than most men, who . . . His voice fell suddenly upon his own ears, and he halted and looked around at the fields M^here nobody moved. He was at the marsh, and as he searched up- wards again at the white spire, he saw the grey nuns, immobile, watch- ing him. "Anyhow^," he spolce softly across the mile of intervening hill to them, 'with God's help I will not go back there, I'm lost if I go back there, and here I start again ..." As though they heard him, the grey forms pirouetted silently and drifted in their smallness toward the chapel, entered, and yielded deeper silence to him. IV. "Y'know, Skipper," he told the commanding officer that evening as they drove toward the Hotel du Paci- fique, "I never did find the Raider camp^wandered around for three hours on the edge of that marsh, finally got a hop back to camp^--and then, eh, discovered that Camp Bailey was right across the road from us. " "Padre, Padre— you just didn't want to go to the trouble of saying that Mass." Lanterns bobbed in the slight breeze sweeping in across He Nou and the harbour swaying its lighted shipping in the evening tide. Lan- terns in the iron-railed enclosure of the officers' club from which female voices cut across the heavy chatter and the roll of the slot machines . . . and female voices seized the senses beyond the odor of stale beer . . , and the SP's on patrol beside the gate and the morose enlisted drivers in the jeeps were unnoticed in the female voices that usurped the night beneath the lanterns . . . "God, women! " said the exec, and Father Ball trailed them into the portico beneath the lanterns. "And female voices," the skipper was saying, "are enough to make you forget your sacred office. Padre." At which Father Ball smiled mecha- nically and wedged his way to the bar. "Well, here we start all o—ver a— gain, hey? " And the exec's sing- song and loud releasing laughter rang to the exclusion of all else in the little priest's mind. His hand over the damp bar halted halfway to a glass and closed in an ineffectual fist. He bowed his head . . . and the grey forms pirouetted silently and drifted in their smallness toward . . . "Yo. Padre! " The lights burst in the shattering noise and the Skipper's teeth were white in the grin that promised ac- ceptance and enervated dissent. Rest Camp 11 "Are you just back from tKe is- lands, Chaplain?" TKe sKot was comfortably down, and he was warm and secure before he turned to reply. This was a type he had seen on the posters in Chaplain's School^— a pursed sensi- tive mouth, and a thin face poised w^ith considerate expectation. A lone silver bar was very straight, impec- cably balancing the cross. "Yes, Chaplain," he said. "I'm Father Ball, with the 501st Sea Bees." "You came in yesterday then. I'm Slade. Presbyterian chaplain at the Raider camp across from Saint Louis ..." "I got lost hunting your camp yesterday. " Ball waved two whis- key-straights from the corporal be- hind the bar. "I know," Slade laughed defer- entially. "Say, let's sit down and talk a while. I haven't been up yet, you know, and Id like to hear . . . The priest balanced his drink and led his youthful confrere through the thick smoke and the boisterous crowd, out past the slot machines to the lanterned patio and an empty table under the palms. "How did you know? " "What? Oh, that you were lost? I came over after you— I'm the only chaplain now at Bailey—and I wanted to be sure you got there for the Catholic men. I figured you took the wrong turning— to the Mis- sion, and the sisters put me straight." "The sisters? " "Yes, I must have come up just behind you. One is blind, you know —but the other said you had wan- dered down to the marsh, and that you were quiet and seemed ill. She was quite concerned. " "That was good of her, eh? But why should she think I was ill? " The young man shrugged in his narrow shoulders, and tilted his head sympathetically: "But you do look all in, you knov^'. It must have been pretty tough up there ..." Ball blinked at him and dropped his eyes quickly to his drink. The lanterns danced their wan light across his soft fingers cupping the glass; he moved his chunky arm into that more certain light. "They're wonderful, those nuns. " Slade's voice rose enthusiastically. "They were prisoners of the Japs on Bougainville, you know— evacuated by an American sub just a few weeks ago— and they want desperately to go back, even the blind one ..." The priest shrank within himself and was silent. "The one lost her arm up there- she spoke great admiration for you— you must have suffered, she said."' Slade reached over and touched Balls arm, "So I invited them over to your Masses.— every morning. To hear you preach on Sunday . . . "Every day! But they can"t do that!"' "Ah, but they can. Father. You see, they're just back here to rest too, and they have quite a lot of free- dom—like yourself." "But you say they want to go back," Father Ball ran his hand nerv- ously through his hair. "It'll be v/orse^-much w^orse for everyone, the second time. It is bad enough the first . . .A man— anyone— goes to pieces. Why, you can lose your soul ..." 12 Four Quarters SlaJe patted his hand again, "I know, I know, Fatner. The nun said it must have been terrible for you ..." "No, no^ don't mean . . . Oh but you don't understand ..." Over the chpped sound of glasses there was a scuffling at the gate, and when Ball turned back to Slade the man's eyes, soft and thoughtful, were fixed on him. "Why didn't you come with us. Father? You're right, I don't under- stand—but you, with your experience ^-and we need a senior chaplain, and a Catholic ..." Ball struggled to his feet. "Not for the Pope himself," he said. "I need a drink." And before the shocked eyes of the younger man, he pushed his chair clumsily aside and waddled toward the bar. V. Though the bells w^ere a dis- cordant clang sphtting with a knife of ice a vast pocket of pain, he did not waken. The dream recurred end- lessly, and he watched himself grop- ing and hopeless to pull his figure away from before the blurred grey daubs behind which the fire flared. Separated from them by the Host quivering in his hand he saw their broken faces bow away in a blur, while mumbled to a trapped con- clusion in their humihty his Mass disintegrated to a bitter taste of the night in his mouth. See, rather, we come every day, at the chapel door that shifted and dissolved the nuns' faces had a ter- rible brightness of what lost inno- cence? Chaplain Slade is sending the jeep . . . The habit fell from her arm across the eyes of the falhng face. The bells silenced. He awakened. At first he could see nothing. Grotesque through the opened tent flap the waiting trees were still. A guide line flapped emptily its in- verted question, noose-like across the slit entrance. At the foot of his cot the bulk of his holster suggested cer- tainty. The bells dissected his thought. He sank back, horrified. VI. On the third day, when the pro- fanely startled exec jerked aside the tent flap with Ball's change-of-sta- tion orders in his hand, he found the priest on his knees beside his foot- locker, carefully stowing tins of beer on the tray. Under his bunk, T-shirts, dunga- rees, and shorts lay discarded. "By God, Rubber," he shook the papers at Ball. "These are to the Raider Regiment! Did you ask for this?" The chaplain nodded, and avoided his eyes. "Well, I'll be damned ..." "No," Father Ball said, "no, you won't. But I will." Hidden, down the valley the bells chimed Angelus, and a beer can clattered from the priest's fumbling hand. He stood with difficulty, and padded to the entrance to the tent, the indecisive mouth trembling, the little hands groping tow^ard the dull canvas that stretched without am- biguity in the sun. The Two Faces of Fiction By John F. McGlynn IN its gradual emergence as a finisKed literary type tKe novel has been chiefly nourished by two tendencies which, when fused together, have produced some of the finest works of the imagination, but which, when opposed or in separate dominion, have spawned at best the ephemeral best-seller or the sterile, studied, pampered desideratum of this or that cult of the avant garde. I am speaking of the tendencies towards naturahsm and towards "romance," using the latter term in the sense that Hawthorne apphes it to his own brand of fiction, with more "latitude both as to . . . fashion and . . . material" than the realistic novel would allow. The strange truth is that both tendencies apparently spring from the same desire, which is at once touchstone and method of the art of fiction. Henry James hit at the heart of the thing when he remarked: . . . the air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue of a novel— the merit on which all its other merits . . . helplessly and submissively depend. If it be not there, they are all as nothing, and if these be there, they owe their effect to the success with which the author has produced the illusion of life. And further in the same essay: Catching the very note and trick, the strange irregular rhytlun of life, that is the attempt whose strenuous force keeps Fiction upon her feet. To catch the strange irregular rhythm of life: how^ our naturalist, reading that, fastens on the word irregular! and how our romancer is impelled by the word strange! The naturalist will often aim at presenting a broad, sprawling, people-studded panorama in which the real protagonist is environment, in which the characters only respond, seldom questioning, and never opposing with any very positive strength. Steinbeck has one of his characters in The Grapes of Wraf?i say: "The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain't so nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say. " This philosophy of determinism seems to be fundamental in such disparate works as Nelson Algren's The Man W^if^i the Golden Arm and James Jones* From Here to Eternity. It does not require a very sharp eye to locate in the background of Algren's book the awkward shadow of Studs Lonigan, though Algren surely gains something over Farrell in his more elegiac mood. Still, it is the color and clamor and impersonal appetite of the Chicago slum setting of the novel, rather than the conflict of will and personal appetite of any of its inhabitants, that determines the action. The lives and dreams of Frankie Machine and Zosh and Sparrow and Captain Bednar impinge one on the other with the violent but meaningless importunity of billiard balls. They are all in effect derelicts, and, while the writer compels from 15 14 Four Quarters us a fine sympathy, he never makes their plight tragic, only pathetic. More objectively deterministic is From Here to Eternity, with its evocation of the pattern of military hfe, its basic contrast of enhsted men and officers. Like Algren's novel, but to a greater extent, it rehes on the raw power of shock treatment and I suppose no valuable criticism of it will come until the shock wears off. The romancer differs from the naturahst in that he tries to capture the overtones of hfe. His field of operations is often small, but he probes more deeply, trying to communicate hfe's rhythm in the subtle interplay of man's inner hfe and external environment. Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter is this kind of novel, its action always radiating out from, always returning to, Scobie's conflict. It is a tragic action in that, invested with a kind of cosmic pity and ignorant of the final saving grace of Grace itself, Scobie must will self-destruction. He is too strong to be pathetic, as Frankie Machine is pathetic, trapped in circumstance. Naturahsm has been the dominant tendency in the fiction of the present century, even up to the moment, as the reclame attendant on Prom Here to Eternity makes evident. Certainly among the causes of this dominance is the impregnation in all sectors of experience of the method and imphcations of scientific psychology. The Freudian's attack on the inviolabihty of personahty is reflected in the novehst's distrust of human dignity and his reluctance to motivate behaviour in any but the most elementary way. Furthermore, the naturahstic writer tends to repeat the therapeutic technique of the psychiatrist, wherein the patient is encouraged to bring willy-nilly to the surface of his mind any and all ideas as they appear. Still further, the naturahstic novehst echoes the Freudian accent on sex as the final, infallible skeleton key to behaviour. Granted, sexual promiscuity is a sign of vitality and hence a means of limning character outline; but it is a sign of undirected or uncontrolled vitality, and possibly vitiates more than it reinforces. And yet, despite the success of Jones and Algren and John Hersey (of The V^all, not Hiroshima) and Norman Mailer, there seems to be a powerful movement today away from naturalism, away from the determinism of morality and personality in which it is grounded. Philip Rahv. in a remarkably lucid and persuasive essay, characterizes the present debility of naturalism: WKat was once a means of treating material trutKfulIy nas been turnea, Inrougn a long process of depreciation, into a mere convention of truthfulness, aevoid of any significant or even clearly definable literary purpose or design. The spirit of discovery fias withdrawn from naturahsm; it has now become the common denominator of reahsm, available in like measure to the producers of literature and to the producers of kitsch. In a somewhat different spirit. Miss Caroline Gordon finds Hemingway's compass restricted to "a narrow range of experience " which "in our crisis- ridden world is inadequate. We can hardly believe any longer in the The Two Faces of Fiction 13 Divinity of Man. ^Ve are more concerned today with man s relation to God." To look into Hemingway's latest novel. Across the River and into the Trees is to look at the empty husk of a once fine, vigorous talent. The disillusionment and toughness are here completely synthetic. Reality has given way to stereotype. People respond to stimuli—and almost exclu- sively conversational stimuli at that—in a way out of all proportion to the causes. The colonel swings from gentleness to harshness with the fluidity and lack of resistance of a stream curving past rocks. The author's purpose is presumably to communicate purposelessness, to voice the utter meaning- lessness of human values in our society; the effect is only to divert the characters themselves into meaninglessness. This is kitsch, if that word puzzled you'-^kitsch, naked and, alas, unashamed. Perhaps the most singular evidence of the swing away from naturalism in our fiction is the wealth of symbolism in many contemporary novels. In one sense naturalism may be defined by its desire to make language one- dimensional. It proceeds on the basis that the rhythm of life is best recap- tured by an attention not to symbols, but to details. Its sacred trinity of procedure goes this w^ay: a) specificity of detail; b) concentration of detail; c) density of detail. Its practitioner uses symbols as much as possible only as the scientist uses them, as static controls for his ideas. They are nothing more than the most available means of referring to some- thing else and are thus distinguished from the romancer's use of them as the very quickening impulse of his art, wherein they take on what one critic calls "a constantly expanding and reverberating meaning.' The hero of From Here to Eternity happens to be a supreme bugler. However, his mastery of this instrument seems to have in the story only the function of accentuating the central irony, the wasteful, unnecessary death of the good soldier, sacrificed to the injustice of the army caste system. One can, of course, impose other meanings; for example, the contrast of Prewitt's skill with the bugle and with his fists can be made to symbolize the contrast of beauty and brutality in the world, with the latter ironically most in demand. But such interpretations seem to be accidents of form and not basic to the writer's intention. Frankie Machine of Algren's prize-winning novel is, like Prewitt, a virtuoso. He is a dealer in a gambling house, a man with a golden arm, and his skill has in general the same relationship to the narrative pattern as Prewitt's. It is true he is a more rootless character than Prewitt, so that his end, a miserably bungled suicide, has more pity than irony attached to it. Not with a bang does he go out but with "one brief strangled whimpering. " However, to turn to a novel v^ritten in the other tradition is some- times to enter a whole world of complicated, interworking symbols. A singular case in point is James Agee's The Morning Watch, a very brief novel published early in 1951. The story concerns the efforts of a boy of twelve to participate in the spirit of Good Friday. Fundamentally it i6 Four Quarters is a story of tKe distractions wKich beset Kim, culminating in Kis sneaking off with several companions to a swimming hole in tKe woods nearby. Symbolically, I found it a story contrasting tbe emotional effects of a sterile, dead dramatic sKow^, Christ's Passion and Crucifixion and Resur- rectionr-witb its abstract and undefined cruelties and mysteries, and tbe effects of Nature's immediate drama of life and deaths— with its cruelties and mysteries intensely physical, intensely alive, intensely personal to the boy. The symbols are unavoidable and stark. Thus, in his walk through the woods Richard encounters the intact shell of a locust. The boy is much more rapt here than earlier, praying in the chapel towards "a dry chalice, an empty grail." TTial whole split back. Bet it doesn't Kurt any worse tKan ikat to be crucified. He crossecl himself. He sure did hold on hard. He tried to imagine gripping hard enough that he broke his back wide open and piJIed himself out of each leg and arm and finger and toe so cleanly and completely that the exact shape would be left intact. Later, after his stolen plunge in the forest pool^which itself is part of the complicated symbolismr-'he and his companions come across a snake which has just emerged from its last year's skin. In every wheaten scale and in all his barbaric patterning he was new and clear as gems, so gallant and sporting against the dun, he dazzled, and seeing him, Richard was acutely aware how sensitive, proud and tired he must be in his whole body, for it was clear that he had just struggled out of his old skin and was with his first return of strength, venturing his new one. The association that this image has w^ith the events commemorated and renewed on this spiritual day of days is expanded by all that follows: by the pride that drives Richard to smash in the snake's head despite his adoration and fascination and fear of it, by his realization that the snake will die slowly, will linger in fact till sunset, by Hobe's tossing the serpent among the hogs which "with snarling squeals, scuffled over the snake, tore it apart at its middle wound and, w^hile the two portions tingled in the muck, gobbled them down." Unmistakable in this novel, and, indeed, in a whole sector of con- temporary fiction (look to novels like Frederick Buechner's A Long Day's Dying and Alfred Hayes' The Girl on the Yia Flaminia), is a lyricism which, it appears to me, is more proper to poetry than to fiction. These writers attempt to extend unduly the modern fictional devices of the interior monologue, the flashback, etc. Such devices, handled with care, serve wonderfully to concentrate the action of the story, but if they do not concentrate it in the characters and in such a way that the characters move more substantially in their own material, time-locked, space-locked back- ground, then the demands of some other art than fiction are being served. Sometimes in Agee's story there is the effect that the boy loses his separate identity, which gives weight to the objection of some critics that these are The Two Faces of Fiction 17 not the sensibilities or a boy of twelve^-an objection wbicb on tbe surface might appear to be mere carping. The poet at the level of apprehension is not much concerned with "the rhythm of ufe"; his concern is his intuitions about life. He imposes his own rhythm, a formular one. the rhythm of his medium, poetry. His is even a suspensive art to the degree that he progresses by splitting apart the emotion from the experience in which it is contained. He tends to abstract where the novelist tends to only sympathize. The novelist can ill afford poetic abstraction and still preserve that correspondence betw^een his creation and the pattern of life as we know it, that "solidity of specifica- tion" which Henry James called the inspiration, despair, reward, torment, and delight of the novelist. He can ill afford to let symbols become their own excuse for being in his composition. This would be extreme romancing, as destructive in its way as the extremes of naturalism in theirs. The conclusion appears to me unavoidable that the writer who carries his symbolism too far creates at most lifeless parable; equally unavoidable, that the writer who concerns himself solely with swaths of fact creates only case histories. There is a middle channel down which the finest novels sail: such recent works as The Gallery, 1984, The Heart of the Matter, The Track of the Cat, and The Brave Bulls. To appreciate them is to appre- ciate a truth on which they depend, that the romancer, if his work would have richness, must focus his vision in a clear-eyed perception of the solid specifications of reality, that the naturalist, to be likewise successful, must grant his land-locked gaze the mariner's freedom, who steers by both reef and star. Hrief Candie By Claude F. Koch The children dance from school: behold, their sun Has crossed its nadir and their clock is stopped At joy. Their spring unwinds its hours. But no time from out each gay face lours. Their year is always noon, and no alarum Dropped from all the calculating world's bell towers Dare second harm upon these sons of ours; No tick shall irritate the minute heart. And daylight saving is the standard watch Apart from us they keep. Oh, we make much Of sun and time, behold these sons eclipsing everyone In brightness like the sun. And, unlike time, in fun. Tivo Poems Like Olive Plants Lilce olive plants, tKe Psalmist says my children are: Banked round about the table in a ring. And I in whose untropical asphalt no such green things grow Am puzzled. I think of them as roaring hons seeking to devour. They share, I guess, some quahties with trees: they're strong. They willow with the wind, they sob in springs- Perhaps for different reasons^- (I have never had a tree come running to me desolate). They're thick of skin, impervious to rain. They sink their feet delightfully in mud and seem to thrive And only God can know how far their subtle roots stretch underground. But I cannot see in them the comehness of trees: The sweet leanover, leaf-dripping lovehness, the sanguine shade; I see the stalk only, bitter with growth. And am harassed by husbandry. The Psalmist has, however, bigger eyes And visions harvest and transfiguration: Blossom and flower and fruit'-- Fruit of the womb bearing fruit of its own in time And going gathered and resplendent to the market. 18 By Leo Brady Donne^s Distraction Is Not Mine JoKn Donne complained a fly glanced tKrougK Kis prayers Diverting him from God. I envy Donne. Donne the divine upon his wooden knees Beside the altar on an inert summer day Tracing the burr and drone a fly makes Like a feather in the ear, while huger hosts With wings wait in the dome for messages And tap, perhaps, angelic feet. For Donne, at least. There was a spell that could be broken: Impertinent and agile fly could interrupt Some supplication, never mind how tenuous. God was served among the interstices Of the web of flight this buzzer drew So noisily on sanctuary air. My plight is poorer. The contemplation of a fly is nearer than I get To a consideration of the heavenly design. Include me in your orbit, fly predestinate. That I may watch God's will unfold In your minute transparent wings, and see You grease your fragile body nervously Exactly in accordance with His plan. Groan in the capacious vaults of my pretense One small thin sound as here upon my knees I contemplate distraction emptily. 19 The Sign By Edward Garry ROCKBOUND and cold, its great length commanding tlie smooth, traveled terrain up and down and crosswise for many yards, the iron cyclops stretched in the cheerful hght and w^elcomed warmth of the middle time. When the giant creature winked its emerald eye, as it did at minute intervals, the impatient throng of smaller creatures surged ahead and over, showing no fear despite the nearness of numer- ous crouching, wide-faced monsters eagerly threatening their safety. For the stern cyclops also controlled the dash and drag of the monstrous things and encouraged the smaller beings to pooh-pooh and scorn their menacing speed and power. Out of the motley reaching the other side, one individual in black garments separated himself from his fellows and preferred to linger on the brink, a yard above and away from the dark, wide speedbed. He stood watching something, another indi- vidual like himself, a man also cos- tumed in black clothes topped by an endless white band around his neck, a taller and heavier and stranger man. The clothes of the smaller man were not unlike those of his tall counterpart, except for the collar, which in his case was a band of white like the usual neckpiece and not turned around, and his cravat was a flat piece of black silk that covered the total front of his shirt. At a short remove from the side of the brink, the taller of the two men stood in a small indentation away from the swirling mass of busy bodies and the smell and touch of the monsters. In this shelter he leaned easily against an upright post, his head inclined, looking like a philosopher musing on life and its affairs, or a serious student reflecting on his own problems, unaware that the smaller man watched him. The smaller man kept watching the tall man, his face intent, the corners of his mouth twitching, his right hand going up occasionally to the back of his head and neck, won- dering and amazed at what he saw. From the topmost button of his form-fitting double-breasted over- coat, a garment of extraordinary length having a black velvet collar and a triangle of white linen barely visible above the top pocket, the tall man let hang an arresting placard three feet square. The sign carried on its surface a series of incredible markings evidently made by a stout brush that had been dipped in scar- let red and coal black paints. The man's left hand held the edge of the lingular sign, making sure it wouldn't turn over when sudden gusts of wind now and then blew^ along the man-made canyon. The smaller man let the words on the sign fall sharply and deliberately upon his mental stencil. The sign read: ao The Sign ai Read Your Bible J Hear Me Bertie Bible Richard Waller Sunday ll P.M. Station WABS Read Your Biblel Vibrating lilce an alerted ancbored organism, tbe smaller man reacbed into tbe side of bis black burberry and took out a small book, into wbicb be made scratches witb a tbin instrument beld in bis fist. He caused tbe metal tbing to glide rapidly over tbe surface of tbe paper getting down tbe wording of tbe fascinating sign, as tbougb be was obbged to copy every word in a very sbort time. Periodically be would besitate before making a new mark, as tbougb be w^ere debating witb bimself on some crucial detail, and tben wTite more furiously tban be- fore. During tbe entire time of writ- ing, be managed a grin on bis face. Before tbe smaller man bad com- pleted bis writing, be saw witb some alarm tbat tbe tall man was coming towards bim, burrying as tbougb im- pelled by an invisible force. It w^as too late for tbe small man to turn and go, for tbe tall man bad tbe jump on bim. So be stood wbere be was and waited, boping tbat tbeir meeting would be brief, and tbat baving said something, tbe tall man would pass on. Tbe carefree day was too lazy witb spring for anyone to enter into controversy. Tbe fresb, beavy frag- rance of byacintbs and carnations and roses and jonquils bung in tbe air from tbe open-door florist sbop, and tbe seductive odor could disarm tbe most redoubtable Spartan war- rior. So tbe smaller man waited, wondering, boping for no conflict, bis bead bent and band still, bis body sbaky. He was conscious of tbe large sboes before be saw tbe face of tbe tall man in tbe long overcoat, and tbey came up to bim as black, shape- less congress gaiters, witb knobs in tbe leather tbat indicated bunions and crooked toes. Tbe feet were those of an old man or one who bad walked thousands of miles. But the small man bad no time to reflect upon what the shapeless shoes might mean, because a ministerial, disturb- ing voice stabbed bis ear. "Friend," tbe voice said in exag- gerated tones, "did you read your Bible this morning?" The small man froze; be couldn't speak; be couldn't move a finger. He could only look at tbe derby and its jaunty angle, and at the swarthy skin of tbe lugubrious face, and at tbe two cold, distant pools of dark- ness set high in the long swarthy expanse. He could discern very clearly tbe magnified bristles tbat shot out from tbe man's jowls and chin and upper lip, as though be were viewing tbe saturnine face through the grotesquerie of a mag- nifying glass. But the distorted face turned from bim and tbe voice came forth again from some place in the man's interior, a stronger sounding- board now, more evangelical, more sepulchral in tone, and as be spoke be held onto bis sign so tbat all who approached rnight read and all who bad ears might bear. 22 Four Quarters "Folks, did you read your Bible tnis morning? Everyone, even min- isters of the Gospel, must read tKeir Bible every day; it's tbe only way to worship God. " The small man came out of his seizure and turned to hurry away. He had witnessed sufficient strange- ness for one day, even a spring day in the greatest city in the world, and he had enough to think about for his next story. His thoughts there- fore told him to ffee, to run before ithe torrent, the flood, the in- scrutable powerful thing that weak- ened his insides and sent a metallic taste high up to his mouth. In the region behind his navel a noisy contraction had his entrails, and the bones in his legs momentarily turned to chalk. But before he could take his second step, his stride was matched by the step of the tall man, who kept shouldering him and throwing his weight and crowding him as they both stepped along the fancy avenue, moving southward to- wards the great white library that has the two well-known stone lions. The small man kept his look fixed straight ahead, not looking fully right or left, ignoring his partner-in- stride, hoping to elude him and fear- ful that he would never succeed. To forget the demon tearing at his vitals, he focused his attention on the passersby. He forced his face to take on a steady wisp of a smile and made his mind hook onto the faces as they came towards him. But his hook slid on the smooth faces, never able to hold onto any crevice of recognition. The well-fed faces of men in business grays and blues and tans were not for his memory's touch; the easy, gentle, slightly var- nished magnets with the bright veily bonnets registered nothing but aloof- ness. Cool and distant and beauti- ful they were, like the gem in the Ethiop's ear. But not for him. He was alone, a solitary traveler on much traversed land, with an enigma nudging him whose absurd sign advertised the carrier's audacity and the small man's unease. "Are you game? " That voice again! The disturb- ance went into his head and shot down into his lovv^er region, and for a moment he double-stepped and lost his stride. "Will you listen to me on Sun- day night? " Now the bass tones jabbed his brains, turning them over, although he managed to regain his stride. His brains said that there d never be an- other Sunday night. From Friday to Sunday is an age, a light-year. "Are you game? I said." The strident tones were jarring around in his stabbed head, his punctured interior, his echoing soul. They were making game of him. He thought he might be saying the crazy words himself. "Will you listen?" He must take hold of this madness and form words that will make sense and bring him peace. He would put those strong w^ords in line, marshal- ing them one after the other and make them fight his battle. But his mouth refused to open, his sound box was paralyzed, he did not speak. He could blame it on the small par- ticle of gum between his front teeth, that small thing acting like cement, keeping his teeth together. Words The Sign 35 now would startle nimself. If he could just blurt out any- tKing. A "Shut up!" A wild "Go to hell!" Anything would free him from the sign, the interior sign and the exterior sign. But no ejaculation came out. No sound came forth. It might be just as well, for the sign would stop and the voice would sound, and the enigma would ex- ploit the hesitation on his part. He didn't want to hear that voice again, that disturbing sound and the rhe- torical question. He didn't want to see that sign flaunted again, that obscene display, that pitchman and barker technique. In his mind's eye he could see the boisterous thing. Paint from it blinded him, the red stung his in- terior eyeballs, the blacic muddied his thinking. He moved his eyes to the right without moving his head and placed his thoughts on the fragile softnesses in the window^, the deli- cate pinks and m^auves and orchids and salmons, making his mind jump the occasional blacks. The sheer, diaphanous things with the fine workmanship at the heels, the net- ting for loveliness and mystery, the things that give unforgettable form and shape, the beige and tan and flesh. These vi^ere harbingers of a real world that made sense and could be understood, a world that might help a solitary forget his flight from a miad pursuer. There could be peace and serenity and ease and no fear in such a world. It was a world of consolation and music and softness and shy voices. And in the other windows his turned eyes could see the comple- ment to that in the other windows, these brighter, dazzling, stronger windows, where gems and circles and bands and strings and v-shaped lines gave back in a thousand dif- ferent, despairing ways the gold and white and blue of the sky and sun. This world also could make sense, and those who frequented it; and he met in his mind furtive inhabitants dwelling in the small segment he had known. Only strangers faced him, distant faces passed him by as though he did not exist, complacent faces looked through him and he never felt so desperate. He had a hundred acquaintances in this Bagdad, this city of homes on cliffs, but the dwell- ers were oblivious of him. He thought he was free of his stalker. "What are you?' That voice hit against his head. That piercing blow again. "Jesus?' He knew he had to escape this darkling occult thing, even if the ground beneath his feet w^ere to open. He had to flee. His liaison with a barker, a mountebank, a fly- by-night revolted him. He was in cahoots with fraud and the banal. He was a confederate to a pitch- man. It must not be. The big blueness struck his eye and cleared his head. He couldn t have wished for a better beachhead to get out of his sea of unease, this sea with its treacherous quicksands and whirlpools. The brightness of the shield and the buttons and the face. The blue of the eyes. "I wonder if you could help me, officer?" Hold it there, the voice 24 Four Quarters for tlie first time, Kold it even and steady and low and cool, now tliat you're out of tlie w^aves. Ignore tKe off-center, off-sound cadences. At ease, you're on the beacK. "Sure, Father, wnat is it? ' Cool again now, light now again, anything now^, anything at all, it doesn't have to be real, to make sense, to be exact, to be your need, as long as you're cool. "Where can I get a train for Brooklyn?" That's it, now. "Why, anywhere along here. " The blue sheen of the arm went up and to its right and came around and back and rested at the side. As if you didn't know that, as if you were a real stranger, as though you were from the hinterlands; and the taller man sees and hears and stands and holds his tongue and his sign and you know he's making that bold front to impress, to keep you under his eye. You must get him now. To speak then, hghtly too, with dignity. It's no time to lose. Look at the blueness. "Can you step in here a minute? " "Sure, Father." A step, and his step. "Is he annoying you?" A nod of the head. The first flush of retaliation followed by a surge demanding vindication, the passion- ate exhaust, and the return of strength. No. Stifle the low thing! "He's a jerk. I'll fix him. " Steady now in leaving, no run- ning, throw off the shackles and take a step and you'll be in a world you understand. To the right then. A glancing blow from a fusillade of words, a staggering, a stop. The stridency again. "Folks, did you read your Bible this morning? Everyone, even policemen, must read their Bible every day. " A flash of blueness to the left. A sound as decisive as a gunshot. "Hey, you!" The sign and the blackness and the derby and the sw^arthiness came round. Another conflict. Small blueness against tall blackness. Bet- ter than small blackness against tall blackness. Much better. He w^as free to move leisurely away, free to ease up. free to look from left to right. He could move across the narrow numbered street and then turn to watch. His insides taut still, and the taste not yet lifted from his teeth. The moisture on his broad forehead and upper lip and below^ the armpits cooling now under the aegis of the breeze along the avenue. The soft faces and their red and blue and dark halos. On some the varnish had cracked and the teeth show, regular, white, strong. The sheen from long hair to shoulders. The smell of pipe smoke and Chanel and all-spice and Eng- lish lavender and the gray of tweed and the salt-and-pepper and the gabardine skirts and coats in pastel shades. People passed and repassed and stopped before crossing. All his fellows. From his stand he could see the raised finger from the blue sleeve and it went up and down in deliber- ate rhythm. He saw the jaunty derby leaning over, the sign swing- ing now, a plaything of the breeze, dismay on swarthiness. No words came to him; the loose lips did not move, the chin was not working. It The Sign as loolced lilce tKe end of tKe drama and so he turned to walk towards the hons. On the Forty-second Street side of the large edifice, the steps to the entrance were busy up and down and he took his time in chmhing them, saving what vigor he had. No cause to hurry now, he knew, no reason to move fast, no need for speed. At the top of the first flight of steps he stopped and put out his foot to look at his shoes and found that the laces v/ere loose and one completely untied. He wondered how that came about. Now, with congress gaiters there were no laces to come untied. He went down to the shoes in a slight bend that gave a dirk of pain and made him quickly straighten up. His side was acting up. He bent once more, this time slowly and easily, on guard for the slightest sign of stiffness and pain. He tied each shoelace slowly, deliberately, his fingers more clumsy than he had ever noticed before. His whole body felt as though it had been melted and poured into his clothes. The back of his undershirt adhered to his skin. Now he could stand fully erect and move up the remaining flight to the dark door and push it open. He had to dodge the young men with uncombed hair and short coats and armsful of books. He looked at their young, eager faces, their careless ap- pearance. Someone was at his side, the corner of his eye told him by the blackness. The voice came forth controlled, demanding. "Brother, I d nke a word with you." He turned his head and directly beheld the man, tall and devoid of the hanging placard. He didn't say a word to answer him. I know you'll give it to me. " The tall man was sure of himself, ahhough subdued in tone. His sign was now rolled up and he held it in his long hairy hand, its shape now different but its inherent force still a sort of weapon. The small man looked away from the furled thing, unpleasant symbol, and from the tall blackness, and he stared across the busy thoroughfare to the far sidewalk, where the sun fondled the gay shapes and the virile forms, escorting them along the bright pathway where they moved with easy cadence and care- free step. He could see the displays in the windows of the mammoth stores that lined the street, the busy rialto, and the suits and shirts and hats and dresses and shoes placed in the exact position to catch the shopper's eye. He let his eyes close a little and found the yellows and reds and blues and the stripes and the whiteness took on rococo shapes and lines. The whole panorama was a medley of forms, a wild array of color and dark stabs. He looked back again to the ground at his feet, at the uncleaned steps and the dizzy pattern from the stamped-on cigarettes and paper and tinfoil and the tiny pools of spittle. Without saying a word, the small man led the way to the low stone bench that was on the right as one entered the building. Down here, a flight below the busy entrance a6 Four Quarters they would be out of the library traffic. The smell of the black earth came up and over to them, damp and pungent and redolent of leaves long dead and their wetness. Here the morning sun only could touch the ground, but its fugitive glance never had a chance to sweeten the soil. Boxwood slowly put forth its shy greenness. It could never hope to match the eagerness of the trees and bushes and the blossomy things that thrived in the brightness of the famous avenue. The air was damp and quiet, and the presence of the two in black gave a grimness to the setting. Their silence was a plodding thing, full of the heaviness of mys- tery and ignorance. In another mid- dle time and another middle age two similar figures in brown or white or black gowns might have met on stone bench before a temple dedi- cated to similar pursuits, but they would have a common ground for understanding and discussion. The small man found himself brought up short. "Why'd you do it?" He felt the prick in his cuticle, but he kept his eyes averted so that he would not see the face of the tall man, preferring to watch the life in the sun across the chasm, desiring to join the march of shapely limbs and well-shod men, never tiring of look- ing at the swirling coats and dresses, the speeding business, the walking city. He gave no thought to answer- ing the question. It could answer itself. "You played a trick on a col- league." He resented the authori- tarian tone, pontifical even in its rich quality; he would not answer. He could not get his mind to work and form words. Effrontery iced his mental faculties, the tall man's effrontery. "We're in the same business and should be one." The small man wasn't certain what w^as meant by the word business. The same busi- ness? He hoped not, he could see the connotations of the word, the sordidness of extracting money from people under some sort of compul- sion. He could hear rattling of coins and the counting of change. Allied words marched through his mind, words that spoke of the street and the plaza and the great spectaculum, the gate, and the take, and the cut, and the slice. He could put this tall man on the right track. But what would emerge? An inane discussion on religion? Talk of making a livelihood? He could see the men at the newsstand crying their newspapers, and the speedy trucks rolling along that carried the heavy bundles to throw them out at corners. Li 1 Abner and Dick Tracy and Baseball Sports in The Daily Record. He could counter with "Are we? Or putting the counter-attack an- other way, "What makes you so sure? " And about being one, he thought that business wasn't the best integrator; neither is roguery, though both are said to make people thick. But he could only think, he couldn't talk. "Don't you ever talk, friend? ' He looked at the mouth from where the words came, the wide mouth, handsome and cruel and forceful. The mouth of a showman. The Sign 37 He looked away from tKe dark win- dow of the soul. "You gave that cop wrong im- pressions. The collar of the small man moved up his neck to grab the short hairs and pull at them and make him twitch his neck. An annoying itch. His collar was getting small and his neck too tight. He opened his mouth again, and again words refused to issue. He was a veritable mute. Suppose he might never speak again! "Before I go to get some lunch, I'd like to tell you something, " the tall man said with a show of dis- pleasure and contempt; "you ought to know yourself like I do. " He waved the folded sign reprovingly at the small man. "That's why I carry this sign, because I know my- self; not one of you could do it." The small man brought his right hand up slowly and put it to his forehead; and the big blackness got up hurriedly. He spoke as he rose. "No, you don't." Again the small man was fascin- ated by the long flow of the coat and the tall man's quick reflexes. He knew how to make his dramatic movements count. He looked down at the small man, who still sat on the white bench. "Friend, I have to eat and it's going to be a problem today, unless like a colleague you'll help me out. Not much money." He stood in front of the small man swaying with an easy rhythm, keep- ing slow time by having the furled sign go back and forth on the swivel of his hand, a metronome in largo time. "Brother, can you spare something. something that will show your ap- preciation of our meeting today? ' The small man looked at his face. It was in repose and could have been the visage of a Park Avenue clergy- man at the bedside of a dying patron. The small man's eyes were quiz- zical, unbelieving. He looked into the tall man's eyes, but the man never flinched. "I've fifteen cents. What could you get for that?" he said. He stopped moving the sign and held it in his left hand like a drum major holds his baton when he's not swinging it. The small man felt in the inside pocket of his inner coat, still watch- ing the shoes of the tall man. He took out a large, tooled-leather dark brown wallet and fingered a bill. The tall man's eyes went large at the sight of the expensive wallet and larger still at the bill. The tall man looked earnestly towards the wallet, and at the small man, and at the people coming up and down. He put out his hand before the dollar was free of the leather wallet. He took hold of the bill without saying a word and moved to descend the steps, with more hurry than seemed necessary. Maybe he was hungrier than he pretended. It was after lunch time. When he reached the sidewalk, he unfurled his sign and hung it again in its familiar place. From his pocket he brought out a tiny note- book and took it in his right hand. He held his notebook high. The small man stood to watch him, to hear him again. "Folks," the tall man cried out in his loud voice, "did you read your 28 Four Quarters Bible today? Even tlie clergy should read their Bible every day. ' When he said "clergy, " he turned with his sign so that he could look up to where the small man was standing. Neither man made any sign that they saw^ each other. As the tall man walked towards Sixth Avenue, the man at the bench kept his at- tention on him until he could no longer see him. Then he w^alked slovi^Iy up the remaining steps to the hbrary entrance. Before touch- ing the door to go in, he stopped. His needs were physical needs, but not food. He let his feet turn, and walked dow^n. He couldn't spend any time in the hbrary this afternoon, nor did he wish to take a walk in the street, or in the park, or along the river. Some inner voice told him that he would never feel invigorated until he reached his own apartment, and could take off his black clothes, and stepped under the shower. That might help him, would be a sign that the world he knew and hved in was still carrying on. To Beath (A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning) By Brother Adelbert There lie the smoking fields, the gaunt woods, charred And choked with demolition where the hand Of Fire stripped from them every sheathing band Of glory, leaving skeletons with sard Smoke rising from stalk brash and seared shard. And then He said to me: At your command Shall these stalks live, O son of man, and stand Forth clothed with leaves and fruit for your regard? Only the Vine remains, with long root deep Sunk in an ocean of ash; but the fruit of the Vine, Touched, tingles the brain like a knife on the teeth; Yet the pity of Fire is in this, to make me keep Five wits at arm's length while I drink the wine Lethal to Death, for whom I wove this wreath. The Theater in Phiiadetphia Is There a Doctor in the House? By Dan Rodden THE PLAYWRIGHT KaJ long been considered tKe primary artist of tKe theater; tKis notion has apparently been supplanted. The play- doctor is now your man. Or rather the play-speciahst; certainly the playwright is still a doctor, as in the sense of constant revision he always has been, but he is a general practitioner. In emergencies^-and in an age w^here plays cost a minimum of forty thousand dollars to produce, every sniffle is an emergency— 'he calls in the speciahst. Or if he does not see the need, and prefers to depend upon his own back-country skills to see the patient through out-of-town ailments to the crisis of a Broadway opening, members of the immediate family—- the producer and possibly the important backers'—are apt to go over his head and call in specialized assistance. The idea is not really new. In years past, such a specialist as Dr. George S. Kaufman M^as frequently consulted in doubtful cases; his repute was such that the G.P. was inclined to welcome his professional assistance. Drs. Lindsay and Grouse once ministered to a play diseased, called Bodies in the Cellar; it recovered and lived a full span as Arsenic and Old Lace. (Dr. Kesselring, the G.P. on that case, retired for a number of years there- after; he had diagnosed his patient as melodramatic, whereas specialists Lindsay and Grouse had more correctly seen symptoms of comedy, and had so treated. Kesselring achieved a certain reputation, however, which persisted until he was so unwise as to enter into general practice again last season with Four Times Twelve Is 48, whereupon his license was revoked.) Earliest of all still practicing. Dr. George Abbott is a specialist noted for dramatic recoveries. There have been others. But this is the Age of Specialization, and the past few seasons have seen a logical idea carried to illogical lengths. Which has been well demonstrated by the current try-out season in Philadelphia, especially by its first play. BAGK IN THE MID-THIRTIES, a relative halcyon period when we knew the empty feeling at the pit of our stomach was only hunger, a imber, bird-headed man and a sprightly, red-headed girl danced their way into the heart of America as had no such pair since Vernon Castle crashed his plane, and Irene married a McLaughlin and took up anti- vivisectionism. Not to make a rebus of it, the two in question were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Early in September, Miss Rogers returned to the stage for the first time in twenty-one years, or since she sang "Embraceable You ' in Girl Crazy. Her vehicle, to pervert meanings, was Louis Verneuil's Love and 39 50 Four Quarters Let Love, and opened tKe new season at the Forrest Theater. TKe opening was eagerly awaited. M. Verneuil had had considerable luck the season before with Affairs of State, and those who assumed it was nothing more than a personal triumph for Miss Celeste Holm were confounded by its continued success after she rehnquished her role to Miss June Havoc, who is no place hke Holm. The combination of circumstances seemed to augur well for a good night of comedy, and the advance sale bespoke confidence in this prediction. It was the chagrin of the opening night audience to discover that both their past pets had let them down badly. Verneuil had created, or more likely dusted off, an obvious and humorless piece, and Miss Rogers, though heaven knows no jury would ever convict her, was playing quite as obviously and humorlessly. I have a great deal of admiration for the charms of Mr. Alfred Lunt, and his phonetic acrobatics have always seemed to me quite effective and amusing. But this sort of play (I refer here to the suave, unfunny comedy of the sexes: cf. anything recent by Noel Coward excepting possibly Blithe Spirit) always seems to tempt the leading male actors into a vocal imper- sonation of Mr. Lunt, and Miss Rogers' associates, the Messrs. Paul McGrath and Tom Helmore, were not proof against this temptation. In view of the lines they were called upon to speak, you couldn't blame either of them for deciding to waive a legitimate characterization in favor of the Lunt technique. But I did feel it was going a little too far when Miss Rogers impersonated him, too. The Philadelphia reviewers were kindly disposed towards the venture, hence avoided discussion of the play and Miss Rogers' performance, rather concentrating upon how handsomely her dress designer had turned her out. How^ever, this did not quite satisfy the producers, perhaps influenced to doubt by the fact that large audiences, trapped into this prior commit- ment, were not amused. General practitioner Verneuil, professing not to be disturbed about the condition, issued an encouraging bulletin and several Gallic shrugs, and took off for Florida, thus displaying an attitude which, whether we continue the medical analogy or revert to theater practice, was rather unprofessional. And left the immediate family group to frantic thumbing of W^af To Do Till the Doctor Comes. Fortunately, or so it may have seemed at the time, help was at hand; the American Medical Association was having its annual convention at Atlantic City, and it was but an hour's fast drive to the bedside. Recog- nizable in the second-night crowd by their lapel insignia, a caduceus flanked by the masques of comedy and tragedy, the play-physicians were most notably represented by Drs. John van Druten and Abe Burrows. That Dr. van Druten is the eminent heart specialist, ex-Harley Street, whereas Dr. Burrows is the famed Brooklyn belly man, would seem clear indication that the patient was unable to say where it hurt. The tw^o learned gentlemen made a cursory investigation, shook their heads gravely. The Theater in Philadelphia 31 and fled the case, suggesting only that the New England climate might help, but holding out no hopes for an eventual cure. Daunted, which is the infrequently-used opposite of nothing daunted, the producers arranged for a postponement of the New York crisis, and a short sojourn in Boston. During the initial period in the Athens of the West when no specialist would take the case, the patient tried home remedies: it was reported in Variety, a medical journal, that Miss Rogers and her cohorts were making up their own lines onstage, as a commedia gesture in the direction of doing something. This theatrical equivalent of Hadacol proving ineffective, the producers were finally able to prevail upon Dr. Sally Benson, noted specialist in the diseases of adolescence, to take over. Despite re-staging assistance from Dr. Bretaigne Windust, the two weeks in Boston seem to have had little result; when the patient reached Manhattan, the Philadelphia prognosis was justified. PAINT YOUR WAGON. A Musical Play by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, at the Shuhert Theater. The first musical this fall. Paint Your Wagon, held promise because it was the collaborative effort of the team which had provided the felicitous Brigadoon. In this instance, Loewe has given us music of some character, but Lerner's book^which, as a guess, has been cut from a hundred pages to something like forty^--is sentimental, poorly motivated, and simple- minded. (Simple-mindedness is not necessarily a vice in a musical play; here it is, because the trappings are epic.) The performers are mostly up to the demands of the script but^-unless you are a James Barton man, which I am not^-they never rise above it. One of the songs, "I Dream of Elisa," has a chance to become what is known as a standard, unless it is defeated by Lerner's obvious and saccharine final rime. Incidentally, the entire company was thrown into an absolute panic opening night by the presence in the audience of the aforementioned Dr. Burrows; it turned out he was there purely in a lay capacity, but it was several days before order was restored. Again, comforting Philadelphia reviews failed to reassure the producers, and again they scheduled further out-of-town treatment in Boston. (A buxom lady was heard to say, in the Shubert lobby after the show, "I liked it much better than Oklahoma]" I think, and I hope, that she is the same lady whom I overheard make the same remark last Spring, about Flahooley.) FAITHFULLY YOURS. A Comedy fcy L. Bush-Fehete and Mary Helen Fay, based on a play by Jean Bernard Luc, at the Forrest Theater. A tiresome and trivial item about a wife who attends a performance of Eliot's Cocktail Party and thereupon suspects her husband of psychosis because he is too faithful, this is a play where the initial premise is so ridiculously unacceptable that you resent it every time you laugh there- after. Such a motivation might possibly tee-off a domestic-type radio half-hour, or a fairly amusing eight-minute revue skit, but here attenuation 5 a Four Quarters proves disastrous. No doctoring M^as even attempted, tKe producer ap- parently being aware that he had caught something hice the common cold, w^hich would last about two weeks whether or not treated. Again, as with Love and Let Love, you had to restrain your impulse to burst into the theater manager's office and declaim, loudly, "This is the Forrest's prime evil! " THE NUMBER. A Play By Arthur Carter, at the Walnut Street Theater. This melodrama was well-received by the Philadelphia critics, who pronounced it well-made, and praised the playing. What doctoring w^as necessary was accomphshed by its director, George Abbott, M.D., who removed an appendix (the leading lady!) and ventured other mild therapy. I didn't get to see it. For some unfair reason, I don't think it will run very long. TOP BANANA. A Musical Comedy By Hy Craft and Johnny Mercer, at the Shuhert Theater. I have been laughing at this material ever since I can remember, and I certainly don't intend to stop now. Top Banana has a poor score and an unreasonable plot, which turns out not to matter in the least. What does matter is that Phil Silvers gives one of the best-sustained comic perform- ances of recent memory and that the play incorporates every successfully rowdy bit of low^ comedy business since the first Aristophanic prat-fall. The only doctors in sight were the Messrs. Kronkhite and Quackenbush, who slapped the patient in the puss with a custard pie and beat about his head with an inflated bladder, whereupon the three went skipping merrily off to New York. I have no respect for this play whatsoever, and I certainly wish I had money in it. BAREFOOT IN ATHENS. A Play by Maxwell Anderson, at the Locust Street Theater. But for the resourceful and accomplished performance of Barry Jones as Socrates, Maxwell Anderson's most recent testimonial to democracy would be a piece uncomfortably mixed in tone. As it is, Mr. Jones makes the play succeed as comedy; it fails as the drama of ideas Anderson says he intended it to be. The comedy points are made because Jones is just the Socrates our meagre acquaintance imagines: constantly questioning, ever-seeking, humorous when serious and serious when humorous. The ideas fail because Anderson again belabors an already-convinced audience with the already accepted symbol. Democracy. Shaw's ideas, or Ibsen's, have controversial spark enough to lend an extra-theatrical excitement; Anderson's are platitudes. (That is, they are unless you remember Act II, Scene l of Joan of Lorraine, where he unwisely conceptualized and defined his notion of democracy, and disqualified himself as a thinker.) Obviously, no play-doctor would be called up by Anderson; his plays die, when they die, unattended and in the odor of sanctity.